In documentary filmmaking, A-Roll is generally your interview footage, while B-roll is the supporting footage inserted between the interview clips. Some types of documentaries (poetic, observational) do not have this structure and consist entirely of A-Roll footage.
CHECK YOUR BATTERIES & EQUIPMENT: This is something you want to check and double-check. Nothing is worse than being out on a shoot and having to call it quits because your camera died.
TAKE YOUR PLANNING MATERIALS: Don't forget to take your interview questions, maps, release forms, storyboards, and anything else you prepared for your shoot.
USE A TRIPOD: Using a tripod is a much-overlooked aspect of filmmaking. Your footage will look a lot more professional.
AVOID ZOOMING: Zooming is an art. Films with a lot of zooming resemble home movies.
STICK TO ONE ASPECT RATIO: Pick one aspect ratio (16:9 or 4:3) in your camera settings and don't change it. It will make editing much easier.
SHOOT MORE THAN (YOU THINK) IS NECESSARY: If you're not quite sure if you got the take right, try it again while you have everyone in place. Scheduling reshoots is difficult and inconvenient!
You can browse all of the equipment available at the Gelardin New Media Center here. Note that more advanced equipment requires training.
Canon xa10 - records to internal memory. XLR and 3.5 mm inputs for microphones.
Canon Vixia HF R11/R21 - records to internal memory. No tapes, no cards. Full HD available. Microphone and headphone jacks.
GoPro HD Hero4 - records HD video to an SD card. It is specifically designed to be used outdoors.
Sanyo VPC-HD2000 - records to SD card. Full HD available. Microphone and headphone jacks.